Fill your minds with things that are true, authentic, gracious, the beautiful – not the untrue, ugly and disturbing.
There are absolutely times when I feel overwhelmed, mostly for a short time period of time, but sometimes that feeling has gone on way too long to be comfortable and healthy and the impact can be far-reaching.
I think the first thing to remember is that you and I can expect to have times when we feel overwhelmed, whether at work with a big project, a stretching new season, partner issues, family crisis, children challenges have always seemed to be a feature for me, and events that are just downright traumatic. This is the real stuff that makes up our lives.
There are a couple of support mechanisms that I know support me in times of feeling overwhelmed, which we have also endeavoured to pass on to our children, who also go through times of feeling overwhelmed.
NO 1 . BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU ARE BEING MINDFUL OF
My man is a good reminder when I am feeling overwhelmed by a situation or a whole bunch of things firing at me all at once – ‘Penny, be mindful of what you are being mindful of?’
Yes – our thoughts – what am I thinking on? Good question.
Thoughts of doom, can’t cope, the incident, my inability to handle the situation or myself, I’m stuck, I’m inadequate, I got is so wrong, what other people are thinking about me… the list goes on to our bias to think on the negative.
It is not easy getting out of a negative thinking space.
I don’t know about you but my thoughts are most challenging when I find myself feeling overwhelmed, at night – when the world is a quieter and the words in my head seem a lot louder and they churn over and over and over… and over. Despite often a good concerted effort to not think about them – I think about them!
Have you realised that when you are thinking on a concerning ‘issue’ there can be a physical, body reaction in response to our thoughts of threat or danger? Perhaps you feel like you want to be sick, or you find yourself overly cautious and jittery to everything that is going on around you.
It’s just not as simple as saying, ‘I will not think of them’.
At times like this we can’t simply tell ourselves to stop thinking about the ‘issue’, we have to deactivate these thoughts by filling our minds with other things; things that are true, authentic, gracious, the beautiful (not the ugly and disturbing).
I like the ancient wisdom that says,
“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians)
I understand that it is not always easy to think about what is true and beautiful, particularly when traumatic experiences are sitting in the background and everyday life stuff is also being hurled at you. However, I believe it is both important and possible to live beyond feeling overwhelmed because by thinking on things that are good, true and beautiful towards ourselves and others, we begin to create new pathways in our brain that no longer take us to a place of feeling ‘overwhelmed’.
Over time, as we practice these positive paths, it becomes easier to go to a beautiful, helpful place with our thoughts during challenging times – because challenging times will continue to come – we need to be prepared.
Let’s be mindful of what we are being mindful of.
My only other piece of help here would be, perhaps you may need to see a professional to provide the perspective and tools to help you create new more helpful pathways when you are feeling overwhelmed.
NO. 2 – DOUBLE-DOWN ON THE EVERYDAY RHYTHMS
As the years go by, I have come to value my ‘everyday’ rhythms of life that wrap around our health, wellbeing, family, friends and contribution.
I believe our everyday rhythms can help keep us centred to our values and the important.
I guess I feel and see the value of my ‘everyday rhythms’ most when I feel overwhelmed by a lot of things coming at me all at once; you know those days when you feel at odds with a circumstance involving a friend, have a deadline at work, your mother goes into hospital, child messes up at school, washing machine breaks… Ah!
Our tendency when we are feeling overwhelmed by being pulled from pillar to post is that we drop our routines and scramble to address the urgent.
Perhaps we do need to reprioritise to address the urgent but it is the daily routine and disciplines in our ‘everyday’ life that can keep us centred, like;
- Getting up and having a shower
- Going for your daily walk
- Sitting down to meal with family
- Continuing to eat well
- Stopping for lunch
- Going to bed at a reasonable time
We will feel when we are overwhelmed, that we can’t keep up the routine, but if anything we should double-down and be more vigilant about the rhythms of our everyday to ensure we are looking after ourselves and are remaining grounded.
So, join us for more conversation about ‘overwhelmed’ on the radio, social medias – we love you being a part of our conversation.
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No regrets friends… take care of yourself for yourself and others.